The Canadiens earned a point last night in a shootout loss to the Atlanta Thrashers. That point secured the Canadiens into sole possession of the eighth and final playoff spot in the eastern conference heading into the Olympic break. Cristobal Huet made his sixth straight start and did not disappoint making twenty two saves many of the spectacular variety, most notably the kick save he made on Marian Hossa while on his belly with under five seconds remaining in overtime. Penalties were again a problem for the Canadiens who received eight minors throughout the game while Atlanta only surrendered four. Lucky for the Canadiens Steve Begin and Radek Bonk were spectacular creating more scoring chances for themselves then they allowed while a man short. Atlanta scored early on the Canadiens when Brad Larsen lifted a backhand shot over Cristobal Huet in the games fourth minute. Although the Canadiens had numerous scoring chances in the first period they did not crack Lehtonen’s shutout until early in the second period when Mathieu Dandenault sprung Richard Zednik and Jan Bulis on a two on two break that saw Zednik fire an excellent pass to Bulis, which he roofed over a diving Lehtonen. Lehtonen continued to stymie the Canadiens throughout regulation forcing the overtime period as well as the shootout. The non-Olympic bound Canadiens will begin to practice on the 22nd of this month preparing for their game on the 28th against the Islanders, which will be the beginning of a six game road trip, which includes crucial games against both the Bruins and the Leafs.
Game Notes. Alex Kovalev although not registering a goal played one of his best games of the year dominating puck possession and driving to the net. Niklas Sundstrom made his way back to the press box with Mark Streit because Richard Zednik had recovered from the flu. Cristobal Huet allowed his first shootout goal of the season after stopping the likes of Daniel Alfredson, Danny Heatley, Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa.
Huet continues to improve.
After recovering from an injury, which sidelined him for the first few months of the regular season, Cristobal has worked hard at becoming better with each passing game. Over the last few weeks he has ensured that he will see many games over the course of the Canadiens difficult post Olympic schedule. Cristobal Huet has pushed the Canadiens to only loose once in regulation in his previous six starts. In those six games he has recorded back-to-back shutouts, as well as a .956 save percentage. That said Jose Theodore must improve, as the Canadiens will play sixteen times in twenty-nine days in the month of March and he will be counted on to carry a portion of the heavy goaltending load.
1. V Kozlov
2. K. Lehtonen
3. C. Huet